Itchy scalp or scalp pruritus is common to occur and can be a result of several factors. However, sometimes it can be an indicator of an underlying medical issue.
Itchiness is often accompanied by scaly patches, flakiness, bumps and loss of hair. While the other three are familiar companions of an itchy scalp, hair loss happens when the scratching is aggressive or when the condition of the scalp hampers the hair follicles.
When your itchy scalp is constant, and your hair sheds more than the standard amount, it becomes a matter of concern. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, some of the primary causes of persistent scalp itching and excessive hair loss are -
Dandruff - Dandruff or seborrhea does not occur solely because of over-activation of oil glands in the scalp but can also be a result of yeast infection in the scalp and hair follicles. This infection causes itching in the scalp and weakens the hair roots, thus, leading to excessive hair loss.
Scalp Ringworm - Sometimes, scalp gets infected by ringworm that forms itchy red rashes on the scalp weakens the hair follicles. People with scalp ringworm get distinct hair loss patches on the scalp.
Psoriasis - Though psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder which causes red patches around significant joints of the body, it can also develop on the scalp and can be really itchy. Hair loss in such a condition merely happens when the psoriasis scabs on the scalp are scratched, and they fall off.
Folliculitis - Folliculitis is an infection in the hair follicles caused by staph bacteria or fungi. Folliculitis is more common on the scalp but can also happen in other body parts where there is hair growth. Folliculitis causes itchy bumps on the scalp that can trigger temporary hair loss.
Allergic Reactions - In a study published by ISRN Dermatology, 1% of people are allergic to paraphenylenediamine or PPD, which is found in hair dryers and other hair styling appliances. This PPD can cause hair loss along with itching and rashes on the scalp.
Lichen planopilaris - Just like folliculitis is an infection of hair follicles, lichen planopilaris is an inflammation of the scalp. According to medical science, lichen planopilaris is a result of a weak immune system and can cause an itchy scalp, sore skin and hair loss.
An itchy scalp with hair loss does not always require medical treatment. Specific natural remedies can help you restore the health of your scalp and hair follicles -
- Take adequate amount of zinc, iron, amino acids, protein, biotin, selenium, niacin and vitamin D in your diet.
- Use parable-free and target shampoos like that for dandruff or itchy scalp specifically.
- Apply essential oils like rosemary and peppermint on your hair and scalp. However, make sure you dilute it with a carrier oil (coconut, olive, castor) before applying.
- Do not expose your hair and scalp to the heat of styling products and hair dryers.
If these hair care and dietary changes don’t reduce your itchiness or hair loss, consult a dermatologist for medical treatment.
Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP